An Herbal Approach to Eczema and Its Effect on the Staph Aureus Bacteria

Learn about herbal treatments for Eczema

Study: In vitro antimicrobial effects of a novel Pentaherbs concoction for atopic dermatitis

Atopic eczema (AE) is a complex condition that develops from the connection of a wide variety of factors, including environment, genetics, skin barrier abnormalities, and immunological factors. Additionally, patients with AE have a predisposition to overgrowth of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, which often corresponds with an increase in flare-ups. 

Recently, there has been an increase in interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal formulas as a potential treatment option because they are composed of a combination of many herbs and may potentially combine to address many of the factors underlying eczema. PentaHerbs Formula (PH) is one formula that has been shown to be for children with moderate to severe AE and has been proven to have immunologic effects.

However, taking these herbs orally did not show a significant effect on decreasing the presence of S. aureus on the skin, and it was thought that the dosage was too low when taken as a pill. Additionally, most AE treatments include topical emollient and medications, so further studies are needed to see if these herbs could have a greater antimicrobial effect if used topically.

To see if PH has additional antimicrobial effects the researchers performed an additional experiment with PH.

In this study, researchers aimed to identify the dosage needed of PH to show an antimicrobial effect. They tested the herbal formula against several strains of bacteria that are commonly found on the skin of those suffering from AE, including S. aureus, Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Escherichia coli.

2g each of Flos lonicerae (Jin yin hua), Cortex moutan (Mu dan pi), Rhizoma atractylocdis (Cang zhu), Cortex phellodendri (Huang bai) and 1g of Herba menthae (Bo he) were extracted using hot water extraction, put into capsules, dissolved into broth of various concentrations, and inoculated with a variety of strains of bacteria. The PH was found to have an MIC (lowest concentration that inhibited bacterial growth) of 1mg/mL and an MBC (lowest concentration that resulted in microbial death) of 25mg/mL against S. aureus.

Table 1. Herbs and uses

Chinese Herb

Latin Name

English Name

Main Uses

Jin Yin Hua

Flos lonicerae

Honeysuckle flower

Clears heat and resolves toxicity

Mu Dan Pi

Cortex moutan

Tree peony root bark

Clears heat

Cang Zhu

Rhizoma atractylocdis

Atractylodes rhizome

Dries dampness

Huang Bai

Cortex phelloendri

Phellodendron bark

Clears heat

Bo He

Herba menthae

Mint

Cools and clears wind-heat, vents, and rashes

Based on the study’s findings, PH has antimicrobial and bactericidal effects against S. aureus and Methicillin resistant S. aureus, as well as previously discovered immunomodulatory effects. This new information highlights the many ways this herbal formula can treat atopic eczema. The intention after receiving these results is to develop PentaHerbs into a topical S. aureus-treating formula that could be used by those with atopic eczema.

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References

  1. Bensky D, Clavey S, Stöger E. Chinese herbal medicine: materia medica. 3rd ed. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press; 2004.